Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of Kerala CPI-M leader, arrested by ED in Karnataka

Agencies
October 29, 2020

Bengaluru, Oct 29: The sleuths of Enforcement Directorate in Bengaluru apprehended Bineesh Kodiyeri (42), younger son of CPI-M Kerala secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Thursday afternoon. It is suspected that he has been held under the Prohibition of Money Laundering Act for his alleged involvement with a Bengaluru drug dealer who was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in August.

Bineesh had appeared for questioning before the Bengaluru ED wing in Shantinagar for the second time on Thursday morning following his money links with drug deal Mohammed Anoop (38) who was earlier quizzed by the city ED team. Following questioning from 10.30 am, an ED team whisked away Bineesh around 2.30 pm in what looked like a detention procedure. Officials at the ED wing confirmed that Bineesh had been taken into custody in the case and had been taken to city court to be produced before a local magistrate.

Bineesh had first appeared before the ED sleuth on October 6, 2020 and after hours of questioning he left complaining of uneasiness and ill-health.

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Agencies
November 24,2020

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Lucknow, Nov 24: A ‘special investigation’ launched by UP Police into allegations of allurement and forced conversion of Hindu women – which is termed as ‘love jihad’ by UP CM Yogi Adityanath – has concluded that the majority of Hindu-Muslim romance cases probed were consensual, a report carried by The Wire says.

All 22 police stations in Kanpur city were asked to report suspicious instances of Hindu-Muslim romance but only 14 cases eventually emerged, which the special investigation team probed. The SIT’s report concludes that in eight of the 14 cases, the Hindu women had either married Muslim men or been with them of their own free will. In six cases, the FIRs registered are still being investigated, though in one of those cases the accused Muslim man has been released on bail.

Kanpur Police SIT probed 14 cases in September in which Muslim men allegedly married Hindu women and forcibly converted them or had developed ‘love relations’ by deception.

In eight of the 14 cases probed, the women openly declared that their relationships with the accused were consensual and based on love. Six of these involve marriages with Muslim men, while two were confined to what the police report calls “love relations”.

One of these two women apparently told the police that she had ‘love relations’ with a Muslim man but that was because the man had promised to marry her.

In the six cases where a nikah took place, the police treated the husbands as accused but was unable to produce evidence that the women were converted forcibly.

One of the women was quoted as saying there was a love affair between her and the accused, whom she knew for a long time. Another woman told the police that she had consensually gone with the accused, made physical contacts and decided to marry him of her own free will. A third woman said that there was no pressure on her to marry the accused and she had gone to him on her own. Another woman said that she had had a nikah with the accused of her free will.

The report notes that three of the women clearly added that the allegations mentioned are false.

Of the 14 cases probed, only six have been identified by the police as ‘suspicious’. The SIT report says that the said women have “validated” the claims made by the complainants of the FIR, who are, in most cases, either the brother or father of the woman. Of these, one involves an accusation of rape, two are of marriage where the man used a false name, one is an alleged kidnapping, one is of intimidation and one of a boy romancing a girl on the telephone using a fake name.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

Washington, Nov 21: Joe Biden on Saturday reached the two-week mark since becoming president-elect, with President Donald Trump stinging from back-to-back setbacks in his desperate, unprecedented bid to undo his election defeat.

Biden, a Democrat, is preparing to take office on January 20, but Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede and is seeking to invalidate or overturn the results through lawsuits and recounts in a number of states, claiming — without proof — widespread voter fraud.

That effort, which critics call an unparalleled push by a sitting president to subvert the will of voters, has met with little success. Trump's campaign has suffered a string of legal defeats and appears to have failed to convince key fellow Republicans in states that he lost, such as Michigan, to buy into his unfounded conspiracy theories.

Trump's bid to cling to power appeared ever more tenuous on Friday after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a manual recount and audit of all ballots cast in the southern state had confirmed Biden as the winner there.

A pair of Michigan Republican leaders delivered another blow when they declared on Friday night after a White House meeting with Trump: "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."

Trump, in his first public comments in days about the election outcome, again asserted "I won't" during a White House event on lowering drug prices earlier on Friday.

After a series of court defeats, the Trump team is resting its hopes on getting Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states won by Biden to set aside the results and declare Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

It is a long-shot effort focusing on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states flipped to the president he would need to overturn the vote in another state to vault ahead of Biden in the Electoral College.

Such an event would be unprecedented in modern US history.

Pressure to start formal transition

Biden, who became president-elect on Nov. 7 after his win in Pennsylvania prompted major television networks to call the election, was due to spend Saturday meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and transition advisers.

Trump will participate virtually this weekend in the last summit of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) of his term.

Trump's nationalistic "America First" approach has often created waves at multilateral summits like the G20, and many US allies have quietly welcomed the coming change of leadership in Washington.

Pressure for Trump to start the formal transition process has mounted, with a few more Republicans voicing doubts over his unsubstantiated claims of fraudulent voting.

There is a "right way and a wrong way" for Trump to contest what he sees as election irregularities, Susan Collins, the Maine Senator, said in a statement. "The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials."

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, still has not recognized Biden's victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration.

Critics say Trump's refusal to concede has serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans.

Shut off from government funds, Biden's team on Friday ramped up their fundraising for the transition. Having taken in more than an initial $7 million target largely from wealthy donors, they turned to their campaign's vast mailing list of small donors, asking — according to a fundraising note — for contributions as small as $25.

Even as the Biden team remains unable to access resources and government experts to help assume management of the $4 trillion US government on Inauguration Day, Trump officials have been making unexpected changes to programs, policies and agencies that could affect the incoming administration.

The Treasury Department's surprise demand that the Federal Reserve return hundreds of billions of dollars in credit designed to back loans to businesses drew a sharp response from Biden's team on Friday, who called it "deeply irresponsible," given the country's accelerating Covid cases and new lockdowns.

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News Network
November 30,2020

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A “gruesome” massacre against farmers in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 110 people, the United Nations has said, raising tolls initially indicating 43 and then at least 70 dead.

The killings took place in the early afternoon of Saturday in the village of Koshobe and other rural communities in the Jere local government area near Maiduguri, the capital of the conflict-hit Borno state.

“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement on Sunday.

“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.

“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the armed group Boko Haram and its splinter faction, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have carried out a series of deadly assaults in the area in recent years.

Both groups are active in the region, where fighters have killed more than 30,000 people in the past decade during an armed campaign that has displaced some two million and has spread to neighbouring countries including Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 promising to fix the security crisis, denounced the latest massacre.

“I condemn the killing of our hard-working farmers by terrorists in Borno state. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings,” the president said via his spokesman.

But security analyst Sulaiman Aledeh said many in the country are growing frustrated with the authorities’ inability to contain the conflict.

“If you’ve seen [what happened to] Niger, President Mahamadou Issoufou had to sack his security chiefs when 89 soldiers were killed. So Nigerians are asking why are you keeping these people,” he told Al Jazeera from Lagos.

“The problem here has to do with the government of the day seems to be rewarding loyalty over professionalism. They [Nigerians] think by now the government should’ve tried a few good other men to get them out of this mess.”

‘So much suffering’

Earlier on Sunday, Borno Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed. He was speaking in Zabarmari village after attending the burial of 43 people whose bodies were recovered on Saturday.

Zulum urged the federal government to recruit more soldiers, Civilian Joint Task Force members and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.

He described people facing desperate choices.

“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation; on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.

Bulama Bukarti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, said the failure to control Boko Haram has devastated lives and the economy.

“The security forces are obviously losing this war,” he told Al Jazeera, describing 2019 as “the deadliest year” for Nigerian security forces since Boko Haram’s armed campaign started in 2009.

“About 800 security forces were killed, mostly in the first half of last year, and the Nigerian military responded by changing its strategy introducing what they called the ‘super camp strategy’ by which they withdrew soldiers from remote communities and rural areas and consolidated them in what they call ‘super camps’ in order to reduce military fatalities,” Bukarti said.

“The strategy succeeded in reducing military fatalities but the side-effect of that is that the Nigerian military has effectively surrendered control of rural Nigeria to Boko Haram fighters.

“You have Boko Haram ruling northeastern Nigeria and criminal gangs ruling the rural communities of northwestern Nigeria; this has a devastating effect on Nigeria’s economy and the future of the country entirely.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Maiduguri, Vincent Lelei, the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said people in the region “live in extreme fear” amid the prolonged crisis “which has led to so much suffering, so much displacement and destruction of livelihoods”.

“Borno state is a state with very good soil, there is a lot of water on the ground, and a lot of crops grow very quickly,” he said. “Given the opportunity, the livelihoods of the people could recover so quickly – but this insecurity, this problem of violence against unarmed civilians is reducing those opportunities.”

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